Freedom of Speech

By: Zoë Christianson

There are people in this room
that don’t deserve to be here.

Exhibit A’s intimate circle
gathers ‘round the VIP computers
designated for those
who manage,
for lack of any other skill,
to commence their daily whispering war.

No one bothers to mention
how easily the room echoes
unless I am the speaker.

Exhibit A slides down from her lofty throne of a broken table
and strides to our corner as an angel pats her on the back
for committing the holy deed
of speaking to those who do not own spirit wear
and attend football games.

She glares at me disdainfully
and forces a smile.

My only shortcoming
is loving what I do.

If I did much other than write
I would be content to share her mother’s chocolate cake
and tell her just how much talent,
how much wit,
how much sarcasm
she’s scrounged from all 23 of her IQ points.

I’ve written for a lifetime.
My overseer has taken snapshots for her mommy
to post on her refrigerator
beneath her “A” in Home Economics
and the coloring book page
she scribbled in
at the tender age of five.

She smiles distantly and regretfully informs me
that she had to change a few things
about my writing.

“Just work with me here.”

She, naturally, has no problem
with any work of art I could produce.

But the parents,
the administrators,
the overpaid snobs,
the hypocrites,
what of them?

I’ve told these people numerous times,
“I don’t write to paint over the dull spots
and make believe that nothing gray ever happens in
this world.”

She flips her hair and says,
“That’s awfully judgmental of you.”